January 18, 2024

Democrats Want To Establish IVF As A Statutory Right

Sen. Tammy Duckworth introduced a new bill that would ensure that anyone can access IVF and other fertility treatments without reprisal from their home state.

Source: HuffPost


The fight to ensure continued access to fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization is a personal one for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who had her two children through IVF. She has known for years that if Roe v. Wade fell, anti-choice groups would come for IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies next.

Duckworth, along with Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), introduced the Access to Family Building Act on Thursday, legislation that would create protections for Americans ahead of that fight. The bill seeks to create a statutory right to IVF and other fertility treatments to ensure that anyone can access such care without reprisal from their home state. The statutory right also extends to physicians providing fertility care to patients. 

Under the proposed law, patients are legally able to keep all of their genetic materials used during fertility care. The Department of Justice would be able to pursue civil action against any state that attempted to restrict access to IVF and other fertility treatments.

“Since the Supreme Court threw out Roe v. Wade [in 2022], our nation has seen a wave of Republican-led states enacting strict abortion bans that not only severely limit their residents’ right to access basic reproductive care — but could also jeopardize access to IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies that millions of Americans need to start or grow their families,” Duckworth said in a statement.

“Without the miracle of IVF, I wouldn’t have my beautiful baby girls — and there are so many other people like me who have had trouble getting pregnant and relied on IVF to start the families of their dreams.”

Attacks on abortion care are inherently linked to IVF and other fertility treatments because of how some Republicans and anti-choice groups define when life begins.

IVF is a medical procedure in which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body and then implanted into a uterus. Physicians typically implant one fertilized egg at a time, and if the patient becomes pregnant, they can choose to discard their other fertilized eggs or freeze them for possible future use. Not all fertilized eggs will lead to viable pregnancies, so physicians discard some.

Sometimes, physicians implant multiple fertilized eggs into the uterus to give their patient a better chance at a successful pregnancy. If this results in a multiple pregnancy, such as twins or triplets, the pregnant person can choose a fetal reduction — lowering the number of fetuses and improving their chance for a healthy pregnancy.

Some lawmakers and Catholic groups oppose IVF because they believe a fertilized egg is a person, and they consider discarding fertilized eggs to be murder.

“I have witnessed firsthand the heartbreak of women struggling to conceive and the strain expensive assisted reproductive treatment can have on them and their families,” Wild said in a statement. “The last thing the government should do is make life harder on these women by imposing restrictions on the care they can receive.”

The legislation introduced Thursday builds on Duckworth’s 2022 bill, the Right to Build Families Act, which she introduced alongside Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The new bill takes a more proactive approach by enshrining fertility treatments as a statutory right. Duckworth’s 2022 bill was blocked by Republicans after the senator called for unanimous consent.

By:  Alanna Vagianos